Postponing the “Real World” for an Adventure
Hey! My name is Andrew (also known as Snuggles or Snuggs for short), and I will be hiking NOBO starting in February 2018 with two other people, sisters actually, Sarah and Charlotte, Sarah being one of my best friends from college. I’m from Vermont, but recently moved to south central Pennsylvania after graduating from college last May. I wanted to take some time to live out a lifelong dream before I either continued into grad school, or joined the workforce.
Here’s How I Got Here
A thru-hike has been in the back of my mind since I was little, when my dad (who is very jealous of my adventure) would talk about the AT. At the age of 11, I moved to Vermont, where I was less than 30 minutes from five or six AT trailheads. I was very actively involved in Scouting and spent every summer on at least one backpacking trip along the trail.
Eventually, in high school, it became more of a reality and I made it clear to myself and my friends that I was going to complete it. I didn’t know when, but by that point I knew I was going to do it. In college I joined an outdoor leadership program that taught me a ton about backcountry travel and gave me the opportunity to lead trips kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, and backpacking, many of which were along different sections of the AT.
Then as my college graduation was fast approaching (read: over a year away) I decided that I was going to do it. I was then at a bar (where all good ideas find their beginning) with two of my friends when I mentioned my postgrad plans being a thru-hike and they jumped on the idea, saying it would be “so cool” for the three of us to do it together. From then on it was a plan. We had over a year and a half from that point, so a lot of friends were skeptical, but pretty soon it became a reality. The group has changed a little from the three of us as we lost one and found another, but we have stayed excited through it all.
My Time in Postgrad Limbo
After graduating from college in May, I took a job at a summer camp, located just miles from the AT in Virginia where I worked with kids, taking them on multi-sport weeklong and multi-week trips. It was a great job and I really loved it, but I knew I needed to be making a little more money if I really wanted to be able to make this hike happen. So at the end of the summer we sadly had to part ways as I set out in search of a new job.
I was interested in getting my EMT certification, so I found a class and was able to attain that. I also got a job at UPS as a package sorter. Was it my dream postgrad job? Definitely not, but it was beneficial in a number of ways toward my hike. First off, it paid me, which seems important when I’m about to go jobless for five months. It also helped that my parents allowed me to live at home at this point in time. The second benefit was that it got me in shape. Work was grueling, especially during the holidays, and being on my feet all day definitely helped me develop a tolerance I don’t think I otherwise would have been able to develop. I know that for backpacking the best training is backpacking, but this definitely helped.
To my friends and family, I look forward to seeing you along the way. This trip is a dream come true, and while I’m nervous about the months ahead, I’m also super excited to see where this adventure takes me. See you out there.
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